COLLEGE STATION, Aug. 4, 2011 – As Texas continues to bake in record heat, the drought news for the state continues to be bleak – Texas is now in the midst of its most severe one-year drought on record, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
Preliminary reports from the National Climatic Data Center indicate that July 2011 was the warmest month ever recorded statewide for Texas, with data going back to 1895, Nielsen-Gammon reports. The average temperature of 87.2 degrees broke the previous record of 86.5 degrees set in 1998. The June average temperature of 85.2 was a record for that month and now ranks fifth warmest overall.
July 28, 2011 By: Kay Ledbetter
AMARILLO – Four meetings highlighting three primary corn irrigation projects in the North Plains have been scheduled in August by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas AgriLife Research and the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District.
“These projects are the epitome of agricultural cooperation as both AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension collaborate with the local groundwater district to address frontline, pressing needs in production agriculture,” said Nich Kenny, AgriLife Extension irrigation specialist. “We are addressing all ranges of corn irrigation and working to collectively make an impact on the area.”
Midland Reporter-Telegram | Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 5:15 pm
With Gov. Rick Perry signing into law legislation making Texas the first state to require disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the Railroad Commission has begun the process of writing the rules for those disclosures.
The three railroad commissioners - Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones, David Porter and Barry Smitherman, directed staff at the commission's July 11 conference to have a proposed rule ready by mid-August for a 30-day public comment period. Commissioners indicated they plan to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Austin during the public comment period, which will get underway when the rule is published in the Texas Register.
Chairman Jones said in a statement, "This rule will provide the additional assurance to the public that a common sense disclosure policy affords, and it will provide operators uniformity and reliability regarding the disclosure process for all wells that are hydraulically fractured in Texas. I hope we can have the rule ready for implementation before the end of the year." The rule, she said, is expected to formalize the best practices already expected by the commission and will codify "what is being done voluntarily by many companies."
From the Executive Summary: In 2009, the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) undertook a study of water use in the Texas mining industry, looking at current use and uses projected over the next 50 years. The study was commissioned by the TWDB and essentially prompted by the increase in shale gas production (using hydraulic fracturing) across the state. The report, issued in June 2011, estimates that the state used approximately 160 thousand acre-feet in the mining industry in 2008, including 35.8 thousand acre-feet for fracking wells. BEG also predicts that the state's overall mining and oil and gas water use will peak between 2020 and 2030 at approximately 305 thousand acre-feet.
The full report can be read here.
The Texas Legislative Reference Library has been recognized with two Notable Documents Awards by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Legislative Research Librarians staff section. 38 documents from 11 states were submitted for the award, with 13 receiving the honor. The awards will be presented at the 37th NCSL Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday, August 11.
Texas Legislators: Past & Present, recipient of the "Model Historical Database" award, contains biographical information, terms of service, and committee service of members of the Legislature back to the 15th Legislature (1876). The database can be searched by name, session, gender, chamber, party, leadership roles, committee membership, and home city and county.
Texas Water Law Timeline, one of two recipients of the "History of Legislation" award, presents a chronology of significant Texas water legislation, court decisions, and state water plans. You can click and drag on the timeline to view it horizontally, or choose a text version. It also includes a discussion of funding water infrastructure needs in Texas.
July 20, 2011 By: Blair Fannin
COLLEGE STATION – In Texas, you have either a checking or savings account when it comes to water reserves, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service program specialist.
Rural water well owners should be mindful of conservation and management so that either type of reserves don’t go dry during the ongoing drought, said Kristine Uhlman, who coordinates AgriLife Extension’s Texas Well Owner Network program.
The Texas drought has escalated into a significant natural disaster. Around the Panhandle, normally one of the most agriculturally productive regions of the state, acres of dry dirt fill would-be croplands. Lakes' levels are falling statewide. Cities are tightening water restrictions, amid the driest October-through-June stretch in Texas history.
So what can the government do to help those who are hit hardest?
Not much, at the state level, experts say.
Droughts are tricky to manage. Their effects vary significantly from place to place, so local authorities generally assume primary responsibility for drought management. Different counties or cities not only get different amounts of precipitation, but they also may draw from different sources of water, below the ground or in reservoirs or rivers.
BAY CITY — From Austin to this city in Southeast Texas, the Colorado River makes six twists and turns before it reaches Mike Burnside's rice farm in Matagorda County. Through a 1,100 mile-long canal system, Burnside floods nearly 1,000 acres of rice fields, which are emerald green in June despite the drought.
Like most farmers in the area, however, Burnside is worried about the future. Rice growers harvest two crops each year, but tighter water restrictions could eliminate one of those crops, especially during dry years.
"If we got no second crop, mmm — it's going to be tough," Burnside says. "We're not going to make enough money."
In recent decades, the few hundred rice farmers in Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado counties have never lost one of their two crops due to reductions to their water supply, but that could change next year. If levels in the Highland Lakes, which include two key reservoirs near Austin, remain this low on Jan. 1, farmers' water allotments next year will be sharply reduced.
According to Texas Public Radio's David Martin Davies, the Colorado River Municipal Water District, responsible for providing water to Odessa, Midland, San Angelo, and other West Texas cities, is reducing customer water by 20 percent due to recent drought conditions. Water levels in local reservoirs have reduced dramatically, and district director John Grant reports that the shortage is "critical." Dr. Robert Mace, Deputy Executive Administrator for Water Science and Conservation at the Texas Water Development Board. agrees that the drought is "particularly intense", but reminds Texans that this drought has not lasted as long as the 1950s drought of record. Either way, Mace agrees that water conservation is a crucial part of ensuring adequate water supplies remain in the future.
Read the full article by David Martin Davies: Drought Drying Up West Texas Water Supply.
Once again, TAGD will be offering Public Funds Investment Act Training for groundwater conservation district representatives and other professionals who want to learn more about the Texas Public Funds Investment Act.
The training, offered by attorney Greg Ellis, will be geared toward the specific investment issues facing groundwater conservation districts and satisfies the state requirement that district investment officers have six hours of training within one year of being appointed and four hours or renewal training every two years thereafter.
Drilling is a way of life in West Texas, but not everyone knows exactly what chemicals go into the ground during the process.
Frac fluid, a combination of sand, water and various chemicals, opens up the oil and natural gas molecules locked in the micro pores of rocks, Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association said.
The Texas Legislature passed the country’s first hydraulic fracking fluid disclosure bill last week, requiring oil and gas companies to publicly list the specific chemicals used in drilling.